Interview with Thunderstick

By Andy Thunders

Thank you Thunderstick very much for this opportunity. It’s an honour. How the fuck are ya man?

Hi Andy I’m good man thanks for asking currently working hard with the new band.

How’s the new band coming together and who’s all involved?

We are currently rehearsing up our new set ahead of gigs this coming summer. It will comprise of Thunderstick material taken both from the latest album ‘Something Wicked This Way Comes’ and the ‘Echoes from the Analogue Asylum’ re-masters released in 2011. Also we will be playing a few selected Samson compositions taken from my era with the band.

When did you decide you wanted to be a drummer in a rock band? Who are your influences?

Right from a very early age. I had my first kit when I was 9. My parents bought it for me as I was in danger of decimating their furniture with a pair of drumsticks that I had acquired. My influences are really quite varied. A guy named Pierre Moerlen from a band named ‘Gong’. Guy Evans from ‘Van der Graff Generator’. Keith Moon ‘The Who ’.Prairie Prince The Tubes. Ian Paice Deep Purple. John Bonham Led Zep….the list goes on and on.

What was the first band you were in? What kind of stuff did you play?

It was a band that I formed with a school friend named ‘Inomina Patris’ we played a kind of Progressive Rock.

You were briefly in Iron Maiden, how was that experience, what lineup was that Denny Wilcox on vocals, or was Paul in the band?

Iron Maiden circa 1977 the line-up was Dennis Wilcock,(vcl) Steve H (bass) Terry Wapram(gtr) Tony Moore (kbd) and Me. The experience itself was like being in any other band a work in progress. We rehearsed regularly and worked hard at our musicianship in the hope that one day we would achieve ‘World Domination’…little did I know haha

Why did you leave Maiden?

There was no real reason for leaving it just happened after a period of inactivity. We were due to play a gig in south London but for some reason the band showed up without Dennis the vocalist. I had been the one that had got the gig and was sitting there patiently waiting for them with my drum kit set up and ready to go, but it was decided that no singer no gig. So I took down my kit and we sat in the pub that we were meant to play in having a drink instead. Steve was not sure what he wanted as regards line-up, it was evident that the keyboard route wasn’t going to work and he was even intimating that he may even go back to college where he was studying to become a draughtsman. Then we all got up and went our separate ways. I started playing with another band and never phoned Steve back and he didn’t phone me. We then made contact a couple of years later when I was in Samson and asked him if IM would be interested in coming out on tour with us.

You joined Samson, tell me about the early days and the first album as a three piece?

The three piece days were good we bonded pretty well and all had been influenced by three piece instrumentalist  bands Hendrix, Groundhogs, Mountain (alright I know that they had a keyboard player) Cream Grand Funk etc  it was the interaction between Bass, Guitar and Drums that was exciting. We started work recording the first album ‘Survivors’ a few days after I had joined. Paul, Myself and Gillan’s John McCoy I think the total time spent on it was about ten days start to finish including mixing. Most of the songs were already written but a couple were penned as we were recording. The track ‘Koz’ was one that just came out of John and I continuing a fade out of another track it developed into a life of its own,( not that I got any song writing credit on it though) It’s ok I’m not bitter….GRRRR  hahaha.

How did you find Bruce Dickinson, then called Bruce Bruce, and did it take the band up a notch?

It has been well documented that Paul and I went out for a drink one night going to one of Pauls regular music pubs .Bruce was there singing with the band of the evening named ‘Shots’. He had a bit of a stage act where he would banter with members of the audience. This he directed at me. The band were using the gents toilets as a make shift dressing room Paul and I followed him in he looked worried thinking that we had gone in there to pick a fight with him. We at the time had interest from the then CBS who thought that the band needed a front man that’s why we were looking it was between him and another singer of the time Gary Holton who was just starting an acting career change. He also was a great frontman. We picked Bruce and the rest is history.

Samson’ first album Head On is an amazing album, tell me about recording that one, we’re you happy with the results?

I loved ‘Head On’ mainly because it was the band at its most creative and flamboyant. I had a lot to do with the ideas on it as a result of being a lover of studio creativity. People like Brian Eno, Todd Rundgren, Zappa and the like. So all the backwards choirs and strange effects was down to me. The material was strong due to an amalgamation of ideas from all of us. It is my favourite album although ’Shock Tactics’ is good but in a totally different way .I felt too constrained on it. If you listen to the two of them back to back it is though the band has two different drummers, and to a certain extent  different guitarists. We had to simplify our playing for Tony Platt the producer on ‘Shock Tactics’ as he had just before hand been working on ‘Back In Black’ and wanted that simplicity in the tracks. As a musician I found it to be a compromise of my natural playing style and therefore not as rewarding as ‘Head On’ also I feel that ‘Shock Tactics’ was above all else a vehicle for the emerging vocal performance that would be instantly recognisable as Bruce Dickinson.

When Bruce left was it a major blow to the band? Who replaced him?

When Bruce left I had already gone. Mainly down to a complete upheaval that we had experienced with litigation against our then management. It hit the band considerably losing us momentum against other acts such as Iron Maiden, Saxon, Leppard. We started to fall out with each other and implode.

You were sacked from Samson, can you talk about the reasons behind it?

I’d like to state that I was never ‘sacked’ from Samson we went in different directions. The band grew tired of the music press constantly writing about my Thunderstick character. The theatrics that I brought to the band were wearing thin in their opinion. I however wanted to develop it even further, being a firm believer in putting as much as possible into the show. No trainers and T- Shirts for me… I wanted strong onstage imagery, point in question looking at Iron Maiden, would they still have the size of following that they enjoy today if  ‘Eddie’ had never conceived of ?

You formed a band with a female singer, called Thunderstick. Tell us about the reasons of choosing a female singer and how it was with that album with Jodee singing. 

Thunderstick was always meant to be a female fronted band. The Thunderstick image within Samson was particularly hard and aggressive looking giving us problems with Women’s activist groups, perceiving it to be a lot ‘darker’ than the actuality of it. Choosing to believe that somehow it represented a belittlement of Women. You couldn’t get further from the truth, the character that I created was done with my tongue firmly in cheek. So when I formed my own band I immediately wanted it to be a female up front. Something that was very new for the time. Yes there were all female bands such as Girlschool and Rock Goddess but very few male bands with a female singer. Beauty and the Beasts. Yes, Jodee was a great find she loved English rock especially the Who she left her home in the USA got on a plane and came to the UK looking for a band she found mine. She was a great singer.

What happened after Beauty and the Beasts? Were you in any bands?

Yes I did a lot of stuff sometimes ‘under the radar’ and then higher profile stuff getting together with Paul and Chris in Samson doing some great reformation shows in the States, Japan, and Germany.

In 2017 you released a phenomenal album called Something Wicked This Way Comes. Can you tell me about the lineup and what it was like recording after so long? Were you pleased with the response to it?

I was more than pleased with it. It came together solely because of the deep sadness I felt about Jodee’s passing I really had no intention to resurrect Thunderstick ever again, but the more I thought about how fitting it would be as my final farewell to her the more it became an obsession to do it. I had written a lot of material back in the day that we had played live with her but it had never seen the light of day as regards getting it properly recorded and released. I found it to be cathartic to hear those songs with a modern edge. The reviews were really quite humbling in a way, given the story behind it and I was so pleased that the reviewers were fully understanding as to why I had brought a band out of hibernation.

I understand Jodee passed away, did that halt anything in your band? That must have been tough, she was a great singer

Yes she was a great singer and she died far too young at the age of 55. RIP

You have a new band your rehearsing with. What can we expect from Thunderstick in 2018?

Well talking of great singers I am really so enthused about the line-up that I now have and really looking forward to letting my new leading lady Viixen onto an unsuspecting Thunderstick audience, she is unique. We are doing a couple of festivals this year by way of promoting the current album and hopefully a small trip to Europe to break the band in. I want to also record an EP..

What is the most outrageous thing you’ve ever done on stage? 

Probably wearing an ‘old man’ mask over the top of my Thunderstick mask filling my mouth with imitation blood wearing a cap and mortarboard having the cap set on fire bringing on a couple of ‘naughty schoolgirl dancers’ and giving them the cane whilst my head is on fire and whilst spewing ‘blood’ all over their stocking clad legs/behinds…..well you did ask !!   haha

What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever witnessed as a drummer in a metal band?

I am currently just over 60 pages into my autobiography there are numerous anecdotes that will I am sure either shock /surprise/amuse/disgust or all four..

What advice would you give young kids starting bands today? 

Be yourself and formulate your own style of course be influenced by other musicians that’s all good but don’t copy or try to be them. More importantly don’t let the haters drag you under.

Anything else you’d like to say?

I would like to say thank you Andy for the interest that you have shown in my band/career it is much appreciated and the other thing if any of your readers are coming out to see us don’t be strangers come and say hello…Luv on ya B THUNDERSTICK..

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